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Walter Meets Maureen

A party at Jeremy’s apartment in Manhattan.

Maureen, an actress dancer in her thirties, is standing near the table laden with food, talking to Terry, an actress in her twenties, the party going on around them.

Terry: If only we were gay men, this party would be heaven.

Maureen: I come for the food. Jeremy always has the best food. A party at Jeremy’s is a night when I don’t have to cook or do the dishes or spend money going out, and he’ll insist I take lots home, so I won’t have to worry about dinner tomorrow night either. Anything else good happens here will be frosting on the cake.

Terry: (sees Jeremy going by carrying two drinks) Jeremy?

Jeremy: (stops) Yes dahling?

Terry: Any straights coming tonight?

Jeremy: (does a quick scan of the room) Vincent said he might bring one.

Maureen: Fabulous food, Jeremy. As always.

Jeremy: Take a bunch home. Please. I did my usual child of Depression-era-parents thing and made enough to feed greater Manhattan.

Maureen: If you insist.

Jeremy moves on.

Terry: (to Maureen) I’m gonna go. Long week. Running on fumes. You want to make doggy bags and share a cab?

Maureen: I think I’m gonna stay a little longer. (gives Terry a hug) I’ll call you tomorrow. I’ll bring home enough for two and you can come over for supper.

Terry: I might be too tired. Call me.

Maureen: Love you.

Terry: (going) Love you.

Maureen moves to the food table and has a shrimp skewered on a long toothpick, her eyelids fluttering with pleasure as she devours the tasty morsel.

Maureen: (taking another shrimp) You’re a genius, Jeremy. These shrimp are to die for.

Jeremy: (from across the room) Thank you, darling. Be forewarned, they’re something of an aphrodisiac.

Maureen: Please give me your recipe to add to my seduction arsenal.

Enter Vincent, an actor in his thirties, with Walter, an actor in his twenties. Jeremy greets Vincent with a big hug.

Jeremy: I thought you’d never get here. Don’t tell me you got the part.

Vincent: (triumphant) We both did. You’re looking at the two new substitute chorus members of Fiddler on the Roof.

Jeremy: Congratulations to both of you. (to Walter) Whoever you are.

Vincent: Oh sorry. Jeremy, this is my new apartment mate Walter Iverson. Walter, the inestimable Jeremy.

Walter: (shaking Jeremy’s hand) I’ve heard so much about you. All good.

Jeremy: (to Vincent) He’s darling. (to Walter) What have you heard? Spare no details.

Walter: The food at your parties is worthy of a Michelin star.

Jeremy: Just one?

Walter: You have a fabulous sense of humor.

Jeremy: Is this some kind of a joke?

Walter: You do impeccable imitations of all the great actors as if they were gay.

Jeremy: (doing a gay John Wayne) Watch your step, pilgrim.

Walter: And when all else fails, call Jeremy.

Jeremy: (to Vincent) We have been through the wars together, haven’t we, love? (hugs Vincent) Come have some food. I made enough to feed all of greater Manhattan.

Vincent: How unlike you.

Jeremy leads them to the food table where Walter and Maureen lock eyes.

Maureen: (to Walter) The skewered shrimp is mythic. Picante in the best of ways.

Walter: I love mythic picante skewered shrimp. (continues to look at her) I’m Walter. You are…?

Maureen: Maureen. Congratulations on getting the Fiddler gig.

Walter: Thank you. I’m amazed. First thing I auditioned for since I got to New York three weeks ago.

Jeremy: Wait. You’ve been here three weeks and you landed half of the best apartment on the upper west side and you got a gig in Fiddler? May I touch you?

Walter: Please. (holds out his arm for Jeremy to touch) I’m astounded. I auditioned two hundred and seventeen times during my two years in LA and got four callbacks and zero gigs. And here? Bingo. I owe the Fiddler gig to Vincent. He got me in the door.

Vincent: Yes, but you did the singing. (to Jeremy) His voice, not to mention his gloriously chiseled cheeks, remind one of the young Frank Sinatra. The casting director was close to orgasm while he was singing.

Maureen: What did you audition with?

Walter: Someone To Watch Over Me.

Jeremy: How retro. Yet refreshingly melodic.

Vincent: He could sing the phone book and you’d cream, Jeremy.

Jeremy: That’s it. I’m getting a piano. I’ll put it where the sofa is and move the sofa over here.

Walter: I’m no Frank Sinatra. Well… maybe the older Frank, but not the younger one. I think it was my dancing that sold them.

Jeremy: Stop. You dance, too?

Vincent: He’s kidding. We didn’t dance. Thank God or I’d never have gotten the gig.

Jeremy: What are we drinking?

Walter: Love a beer. (to Maureen) What are you drinking?

Maureen: I’m currently focused on the shrimp. But eventually I’ll have wine.

Jeremy: (to Vincent) Come help me get their drinks and say hello to your legions of admirers.

Vincent follows Jeremy away, leaving Walter alone with Maureen.

Walter: I thought they’d never leave.

Maureen: (pleased) So… you moved here from LA? I lived in LA for three years. I found it… psychotic.

Walter: More psychotic than Manhattan?

Maureen: I guess not more. Just… other.

Walter: How would you compare the two psychoses?

Maureen: (smitten) You’re straight, aren’t you?

Walter: I am. You?

Maureen: I am now.

Walter: What changed you?

Maureen: The way you said psychoses. (fans herself) Be still my heart. Tell me you don’t have a girlfriend.

Walter: I don’t have a girlfriend.

Maureen: I don’t either. Or a boyfriend. (thinks for a moment) Not really. I’m sort of dating a couple people, but we’ve all given each other the right to…

Walter: Fall in love with others?

Maureen: Yeah. (eats a shrimp) These are so good. You should have several.

Walter: Okay. (he eats a shrimp) Wow. They are good. Spicy skewered mythic shrimp. What could be better?

Maureen: I can think of a few things. So what do you do besides act and sing and possibly dance?

Walter: Well, I’ll probably be getting a job as a waiter somewhere swank unless the substitute chorus gig turns into something a little more lucrative. And I’m writing a play. That’s my larger aim in life. To be a playwright. You? An actor, and judging by your glorious gams I’ll guess dancer, too.

Maureen: Did you just say glorious gams?

Walter: I did.

Maureen: I thought so. Jesus. Who knew language could be so erotic?

Walter: William Carlos Williams. Among others. So… you act and dance and… what else?

Maureen: I’m actually not doing much acting these days. Lots of classes, of course, but I haven’t had a part, including summer stock, in over three years. I do still take way too many dance classes for someone not looking for work, and for my day job I’m a play evaluator for New Hope Theatre Company.

Walter: Oh. So you read plays and write encouraging rejection letters?

Maureen: Something like that. Although last year I discovered Jane Zester’s Short People Don’t Have So Far Too Fall and pushed hard to get a staged reading, and it ended up having a decent run in Trenton and may eventually work its way into the small theatre repertoire. These things do happen.

Walter: That’s thrilling.

Maureen: Are you being facetious?

Walter: No. It is thrilling. I got chills. It’s my fondest dream. To write a play that works its way into the small theater repertoire. Small theatres are the best things that ever happened to most towns in the world.

Maureen: (eats another shrimp) Um…would you like to go out with me? I think that’s how you say it? Meet for coffee? Go to a movie? Have a date? See what happens?

Walter: Yes.

Maureen: You’re not just saying that because I might one day read your play and set you on the road to international stardom, are you?

Walter: No. I’m saying that because I think you’re lovely and… yeah. You could be an accountant and I’d want to go out with you.

Maureen: My father is an accountant. Why would you have chosen that occupation, of all things?

Walter: I don’t know. There was just something about you. A subtle air of accountancy perhaps.

Maureen: Maybe it’s the way I’m silently keeping track of how many shrimp I’ve eaten. (picks up another shrimp) This will be seven. But let’s speak of other things. Let’s pretend we’re two people at a party who just met.

Walter: Okay. You go first.

Maureen: Have you seen any good movies lately?

Walter: No. Have you?

Maureen: No.

Walter: What’s your favorite color?        

Maureen: The color of your eyes. Kind of green brown. What’s yours?

Walter: The color of the blush in your cheeks. Rose?

Maureen: Good old party talk. Don’t you just love it?

Walter: I never did until tonight.

Vincent arrives with a beer for Walter and a glass of red wine for Maureen.

Vincent: (as he hands them their drinks) Do my senses deceive me or are we falling in love here?

Walter: You are not deceived.

Maureen: Speak for yourself, Walter.

Walter: You are not deceived regarding moi.

Maureen: You speak French?

Walter: Oui.

Maureen: Okay then, yes, you may speak for me.

Vincent raises his glass to make a toast.

Vincent: Here’s to my brilliant prescience in choosing Walter as my roommate.

Walter: Everything else has therefrom evolved.

Maureen: (fans herself) There you go again. Nothing like the timely use of therefrom to get a girl going.

Vincent: I knew this was gonna be a good party. We would have been here much sooner, but we had to schmooze with the Fiddler people. Such wonderful people, the Jews. And I say that as one of them.

Maureen: Are you Jewish, Walter?

Walter: On my mother’s side. So, yes. You?

Maureen: On both sides. (gazes lovingly at him) And I’m glad you didn’t get here any sooner or my gorgeous girlfriend Terry would have still been here and you wouldn’t have given me a second look.

Walter: (to Maureen) More gorgeous than you? Impossible.

Vincent: This is where you make a date to meet again in a couple days, right? Or maybe lunch tomorrow?

Walter: I hope so.

Maureen: I’d like that. So much.

Vincent: Whereas if I met a guy here and had the frisson you two have going on, we’d be going home together any minute now. Or down the hall here to the bedroom. Or maybe just here, by the hors d’oeuvres

Maureen: I used to be that way. And I always regretted it.

Walter: In my rather limited heterosexual experience, I think it’s wiser to wait for the initial endorphin rush to subside to better see who the other person actually is. You know what I mean?

Maureen: I do know what you mean, Walter. Though if you asked me to come home with you right now, it would be hard for me to say No.

Walter: I’m flattered.

Vincent: And to think I was present at the inception of this romance. Promise me if you have a boy child you’ll name him Vincent.

Walter: Lets not rush things.

Maureen: (gives Walter a look) Oh lets.

Walter: (opens his arms) Talked me into it.

Maureen and Walter embrace as Vincent looks on approvingly.

fin

One Fell Swoop piano solo

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